Kawaii goes Mainstream with TokiDoki & Friends With You at Target

So, I went to Target today and I was kinda blown away. Apparently cute, kawaii characters have made it to mainstream- the cheap & affordable mainstream. I am not entirely sure how I feel about it...

Simone Legno's new tees for Target are interesting. He didn't call them 'TokiDoki' because I am assuming that he still wants you to buy your $150 LeSportsac bag, and then head over to Target and also pick up a tee for $7.99. It's also interesting that it's in the kid's section. It's still a stigma that cute characters must be for kids. Online, they aren't marketed to kids, but all I could find in the store were 2 tees in the girl's section. The bags online are $19.99 and look to be about the same quality as my expensive LeSportsac TokiDoki purse.

They've also got tees by "Kawaii Island" which is the new mainstream brand by Friends With You. Check out that hang tag, so cute! They are also not using their well known brand name on this less expensive line, and it's also being marketed to kids.

There's also this shirt by "Extra Frosting" which looks a little too much like Loyal Army to me.

Original by Loyal Army:

So, high end character artists are dividing up their branding to appeal to both high end and mass market. Is this smart? Do you feel like your expensive TokiDoki items are less valuable now? Or are you happy just to be able to buy TokiDoki images on a tee for cheap? Will this affect their brand sustainability in the long run? For example, will LeSportsac quit making bags with TokiDoki art on them because they will feel that this is a conflict? I am curious to hear your thoughts, and to see how this will affect these brands long term.

Post Updated on 7/12


  1. I have mixed emotions about the high-end/mass market dichotomy. There really doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between many of the products, although I'd like to think the expensive stuff is better quality. Which isn't always the case, unfortunately!

    Of course, I am totally going to have to head down and check these out ASAP...

  2. You bring up a very good point.

    The quality of high end brands like TokiDoki and Harajuku Lovers has never been great. I think it's unfair to consumers to produce low quality merchandise at expensive price points, and then compete with yourself by bringing out a much cheaper line.
    My $65 Harajuku Lovers cardigan started falling apart on it's second wear, while my $12 Forever 21 cardigan has lasted much longer. Lame!

  3. Down under, we're not so exposed to the bigger brands in our mass market outlets, and the tokidoki stuff is purely sold through high end shops (duty free etc), the odd high street fashion boutique and stores like that.

    I do kinda feel funny having the same artist making both high end, and mass market goods. i can imagine a conversation going like

    "dude! nice shirt! tokidoki?"
    "err no? target"


  4. This is the nature of the beast with any art form (ie. music, film, acting, etc.) and a sometimes necessary step for the survival of artists.

    I don't have too much of a problem with it as typically, artists do this sort of thing because they want and often need the exposure and resulting cash flow. Crispin Glover has admitted he does shit like Charlie Angels so he can continue doing what wants like releasing his own odd films and books. Like haute couture and pret-a-porter = the best of both worlds.

    Sadly, one example of an artist not playing to this kind of retail duality is Christian Lacroix who just closed his design house. Many cite his lack of entering the pret-a-porter market as part of his decline. His haute couture is beautiful but accessible to a mere fraction of the population, which can't sustain his couture work alone especially in this economy.

    And I'm not surprised these items have shown up at Target either as they've been consistently keeping their eyes peeled on savvy designers and courted many of them for marketing and product lines for years now.

    I for one am psyched because my niece (and me too!) will look adorable in these tees ^__^

  5. Also as a side note, I've never had any troubles with quality on my Tokidoki or Harajuku Lovers stuff. I'm sorry to hear that's not the case for others!

    I also agree that if you're gonna peddle high end it should be high end all around so that lower end lines from the same designer don't become self competitive.

  6. wow that is pretty weird i dunno what i think about it although at least more people will love kawaii items and come visit our blogs! hopefully! but i dunno it could go pear shaped. hmm

  7. so cute ! i love it !!


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